A Nowra e-waste recycling company has closed, taking 20 jobs with it and leaving the owners with nothing.
Russell Hiscox, who started TSR eWaste in South Nowra, has lost everything after being instructed by the EPA not to take on any more glass.
The company closed two weeks ago.
Mr Hiscox had been developing a way to remove the lead from glass used in TVs and computer monitors, known as cathode ray tube (CRT) glass.
Because CRT glass contains 26 per cent lead, it can’t be recycled like other glass.
For the past six years TSR eWaste has been recycling about 1200 tonnes of electronic waste from councils between Shellharbour and Eurobodalla.
The company has been stockpiling CRT glass in readiness for when its glass recycling unit is ready. Mr Hiscox expected that to be in October.
Since 2012 he had an integrated development application with Shoalhaven City Council and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
“The EPA has been involved every step of the way,” Mr Hiscox said.
“Then three months ago they paid us a visit and said we had too much crushed glass on site and some of it was being stored incorrectly.
“That was the first visit we had in the past year by the EPA,” he said.
The EPA issued Mr Hiscox with a clean-up notice which he said he complied with.
“We proceeded with our plan to develop the CRT recycling process.”
However at the bottom of the notice it said the company was not to receive any more cathode ray tube glass.
By stopping the company from receiving whole tubes as well as crushed CRT glass, a major supplier of e-waste stopped their supply.
“That cut off our income stream,” Mr Hiscox said.
“I explained and complained about not being able to receive e-waste and never received a reply from the EPA.”
Mr Hiscox negotiated a way forward with Shoalhaven City Council but he said the EPA did not agree.
“The EPA said CRT was classed as dangerous goods. But I have looked everywhere, at every piece of legislation and I can’t find it listed as dangerous goods anywhere,” Mr Hiscox said.
“I asked the EPA to show me where it is written and they won’t. I have phoned and emailed them and got no reply.
“We are absolutely devastated.
“We’re the only people in Australia trying to do something about the mounting stockpiles of this glass.
“We came up with a solution to take the lead out and turn it back into a usable product.
“The nation has a problem and the solution is right here in NSW.
“I can’t understand this. I think it must be a political decision.”
Mr Hiscox said the only other option was to ship the waste overseas.
“There is a plant in South Australia but they can only take a very limited amount.
“I just spent enormous amounts of money on machinery and by October would have had our plant running and would have been working through our glass stockpile,” he said.
EPA Waste and Resource Recovery director Steve Beaman said TSR had 1300 tonnes above their council consent limit of 100 tonnes.
“The ball is in TSR’s court to do the right thing and bring their operations into compliance,” he said.
“So far, TSR has complied with the first element of its clean-up notice but up to 1300 tonnes of illegally stockpiled waste still remains on-site.”